Spain PM denies corruption allegations

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy denies media claims that he and other leaders of the ruling Popular Party received secret payments for years.

Rajoy said Saturday that the allegations were “false,” vowing not to resign despite the publication of documents showing secret payments to him.

“I have never received nor distributed undeclared money,” the PM said, adding he would publish on the Internet “statements of income, patrimony and any information necessary” to prove the claims false.

Center-left newspaper El Pais on Thursday published account ledgers showing donations were channeled into secret payments to Rajoy and other party leaders.

The newspaper claimed the premier received 25,200 euros a year between 1997 and 2008. It also said that the fund was collected mostly from construction firms, adding that such payments would be legal if they were fully declared to the taxman.

The allegations sparked anger among people who have been asked to accept harsh austerity measures as the government tried to prevent an international bailout.

Protesters gathered outside the ruling party headquarters on Saturday while Rajoy was speaking at an emergency party meeting, asking him to step down.

Protesters blamed the politicians for the country’s economic crisis, and yelled “thieves” while demonstrating outside the building.

“My sister is on the verge of being evicted and I didn’t get my Christmas bonus, while those ladies and gentlemen not only got their Christmas bonuses but have also been robbing our money,” said Maxi Sanchez Pizarro, who was among the protesters.

“They are shameless crooks and thieves. I hope they have the honor to resign and call an election,” he added.

Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking millions of jobs with it.

SAB/HGH/SL